What is Meningitis– This health issue occurs when fluid around the meninges becomes infected. This swelling is not only caused by an infection, but can develop as a result of brain surgery or a head injury. Viral and bacterial infections are common causes of the disorder. Others include chemical irritation, fungi, drug allergies and cancer. Both meningitis types are dangerous and can be transmitted by close contact, sneezing and coughing.
Viral Meningitis is the most common type of infection. Viruses in the category of enterovirus cause 85% of all cases. These can be commonly seen in the fall and summer and include coxsackievirus A, B, and echoviruses. Other viruses that cause meningitis are HIV, measles, influenza, west nile virus, herpes virus, and coltivirus.
Bacterial Meningitis is infectious and caused by a specific bacteria. If left untreated, it can be fatal. Around 4-40% of children and 20-50% of adults die from the condition, even if they were given proper treatment. The common types of bacteria responsible for this kind of meningitis are:
- Neisseria Meningitidis– This is spread through saliva and respiratory fluids, and is responsible for the condition known as meningococcal meningitis.
- Streptococcus Pneumonia is found in the sinuses, nasal cavity, and respiratory tract, causing pneumococcal meningitis.
- Haemophilus Influenza is caused due to a blood infection, cellulitis, infectious arthritis and inflammation of the windpipe.
- Listeria Monocytogenes, a foodborne bacteria
Symptoms– At the beginning, the symptoms of both bacterial and meningitis viral seem identical in nature. However, the symptoms of bacterial meningitis are more serious, and depend on age. Here are the symptoms of both:
In Infants– Sleepiness, fever, lethargy, decreased appetite, and irritability
In adults– Fever, headaches, seizures, stiff neck, sleepiness, decreased appetite, nausea, and sensitivity to bright light.
The symptoms of bacterial meningitis develop suddenly. They may include nausea, vomiting, altered mental status, fever, stiff neck, sensitivity to light, and headache. If you discover any of these symptoms, seek immediate medical attention, as it can be deadly. A few tests performed by your doctor will determine what type of meningitis you are experiencing.
Prevention– If you are at increased risk, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is important. This includes avoiding smoking, getting sufficient amount of rest, and avoiding contact with infected people. In the event of unavoidable close contact with an infected person who is suffering from bacterial meningococcal infection, the physician will provide you with preventative antibiotics. Vaccines are also used as a preventive measure against the specific form of the disease you have contracted. These vaccines include, meningococcal vaccine, pneumococcal conjugate vaccines, and haemophilus influenza type B.
Treatment– Treatment is dictated by the cause. Bacterial meningitis needs immediate medical assistance. Early analysis and treatment protects the individual from brain damage, or even death. This kind of meningitis is treated with the help of intravenous antibiotics, but largely depends on the bacteria involved. On the other hand, viral meningitis is not treated, but is resolved on its own. Their symptoms will vanish in the span of two weeks. There are no serious long-term problems associated with this kind of meningitis.
Consult your physician immediately if you are experiencing related symptoms, and treat the potential disease proactively.